Remember when fanboys thought that Watchmen could never be filmed? People went on and on about its complexities and how hard it would be to get it right. Now, I know a lot of you didn’t like Watchmen, but for what it’s worth, it was as accurate as you could possibly get and will be a cult classic forever. I know it’s a pretty hard pill to swallow, but there’s hope.
Fear Agent Vol:1 is what I’d like to call a “comic snob’s” wet dream. Fun, but complex, at least the first few books in this trade are. Easily a pulp classic, the story pays homage to its periodical predecessor Heavy Metal magazine, so much so I laughed out loud while reading it.
When down-and-out alien exterminator Heath Huston stumbles upon an extraterrestrial plot to commit genocide against the human species, he must put down the bottle and resume his role as a peacekeeper . . . as The Last Fear Agent.
Heath is a killer with a conscience. For all the badass he likes to pretend to be, he’s a straight-up softy with a Biblical drinking disorder. His regulator is his ship’s computer, “Annie”, whom you find out in one of his flashbacks is modeled after his ex wife Charlotte. Her need to keep him sober works to magnify his recklessness but also serves to let the reader in on the dynamic he and his wife had when they were together. The set up for this trade was simple, but then we start finding out more and more about who he is and who the Fear Agents are and most importantly, the fate of his home world Earth by way of Texas. There’s tons of temporal displacement to wrap your minds around that I felt like I was watching an episode of Star Trek:The Next Generation. But writer Rick Remender (The End League) does a swell job outlining Heath’s journey so you don’t get too confused. This Greek tragedy wouldn’t be complete without some serious violence and Fear Agent is fucking full of it. Panel after panel, all you see is our hero taking some of the best ass whippin’s aliens can dish out, and he keeps coming back. Illustrator Tony Moore and Jerome Opena deliver so much by way of intensity! This story is adrenaline! Heath’s unscrupulous nature is all the fuel he needs to keep us glued to every single well-intended, idiotic move he makes.
The key to this story is loneliness and what it can do to a man over time. For a graphic novel, the images can be hard to watch; take, for instance, the times when Heath is aboard his vessel. He’s drinking and puking everywhere as the computer tells him of impending danger or just how destructive he’s being to his body. This coping mechanism, one that he seems to need whenever he takes on a contract Alien kill, places him at death’s door, but he manages to survive. Like a cat landing on its feet, Heath brings confusion, pain and death with him and those who are within his reach and still manages to come out on top even if his karmic wheel is beyond repose. He is a G-d in his own world. A powerful but severely lonely one.
I’m recommending this book because it’s fun! It’s not hard to get Heath, so when issues open with him hooked to a machine that extract his fear for aliens who use it like a drug, my first thought is, okay, that’s pretty cool; let’s see where this goes. Humans love train wrecks–look how closely we watch the magazine racks to see what Hollywood star is fucking up. That’s what reading Fear Agent is like…a guilty pleasure, so yes, I’ve found my vice.